Shots Across the Bow

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Why Not to Buy a Blu-Ray Just Yet

I was in Best Buy the other day, looking for a mount for the TV I bought for the living room. My middle son just signed a lease for a new apartment and he's moving out. The problem is the boy plans on taking his 50" TV with him. Talk about ungrateful! Anyway, I was in need of a new TV to replace his and I found a great deal on an Olevia 42" 1080p TV at WalMart for under a thousand dollars. I grabbed it but they were out of mounts, so I was off to Best Buy, and while I was there, I looked at a few Blu-ray DVD players. I was reluctant to purchase a Hi Def DVD player until the format war between HD and Blu-ray was over, but now that Sony has won a very expensive victory (while Sony hasn't officially said anything, the rumors are that they gave billions to the movie industry to get them to support Blu-ray) I thought it might be time to consider buying.

Nope.

There's still a fly in the ointment. You see, Blu-ray today isn't the end standard. Sony was rushed by the arrival of HD players, so they cobbled together a standard that kinda worked, and rushed it out to market. And by kinda worked, I mean didn't really work at all. Most of Blu-ray's touted advantages over HD, like dual layer dual sided storage and built in Java support, failed miserably, especially in the first generation players. Sony had significant technical difficulties in manufacturing the Blu-ray discs themselves, to say nothing of obtaining the blue lasers that their technology was named for. But, taking a page from the Microsoft marketing manual, they decided that market share was more important than product quality, and they shipped what they had.

Here's where it gets fun.

Sony is getting close to perfecting their Blu-ray standard, which they now call Blu-ray 2.0, and guess what? Blu-ray 2.0 movies will not play on Blu-ray 1.1 machines. For those of you keeping score at home, all BluRay drives shipped to date are Blu-ray 1.1. What this means is that sometime in the next 12-18 months, your $700 Blu-ray machine will be obsolete.

That's just a bit too quick for me. I'll wait until they get the format locked down and I can buy a player and not have to replace it within a year or so.

And I really don't expect the movie studios will be releasing movies in Blu-ray 1.1 and 2.0. If they did, that would reduce the demand for Sony's new product line, and after spending billions to win the market, I'd expect Sony to demand that the studios release movies only in the 2.0 format. In fact, I'll make a prediction right now. Some of the most eagerly anticipated next generation releases are Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings. I'll bet that you won't see either one of these series released until the 2.0 standard is released, and that they both will be released exclusively in 2.0.

Any takers?
Posted by Rich
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"Sony is getting close to perfecting their Blu-ray standard, which they now call Blu-ray 2.0, and guess what? Blu-ray 2.0 movies will not play on Blu-ray 1.1 machines"

Actually, this is not correct. The movies WILL play on the earlier players, BUT most of the new features will not be accessed. The way it is looking now - the BD 2.0 features won't even show up as options when the disc is played on a 1.0 or 1.1 player, but will show up on a 2.0 player.

BD 2.0 can be looked on as a newer Blu-Ray model with new features. It doesn't make the older players obsolete - just makes the people who bought them wish they had waited.
Posted by D Nelson  on  02/10  at  08:18 PM

That is an optimistic reading of the problem. 2.0 is a multilayer standard. 1.1 can barely handle dual layer discs. If my player will not play all the features of a disc, I call that incompatible. When you get right down to it, I've already seen the movie; I buy the DVD for the extras.
Posted by Rich Hailey  on  02/12  at  10:24 PM

Any word on when the 2.0 players will be released or at least available for preorder? We are with you, Rich. We can wait a few more months. But I figure that the drop in price (if we wait until 2.0 has been around a while) will be partly negated when we buy additional copies of movies in Blu-Ray. So I'd like to go ahead and bite the bullet and pay for 2.0 and start getting the Blu-Ray movies. But I'd have to rethink if the players won't be available for a year! Thanks! Alicia
Posted by Alicia  on  02/14  at  12:31 AM

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